Friday, January 30, 2009

A sign from Rod

So I don't know about your state, but here in Illinois, we've been feeling rather criminalicious lately.

We've got one governor in Federal prison (Ryan) and another on the way (Blago).

Here's what really bugs me about all this gubernatorial turnover: The signs.

Crossing into Illinois from Indiana or Wisconsin, you'll see a sign that reads something like this:

Welcome to Illinois. Rod R. Blagojevich, Governor

And if you're paying your way through on our toll roads, you'll see these signs:

Open Road Tolling. Rod R. Blagojevich, Governor

Here's an open request to our spankin' new dude, Governor Pat Quinn:

Whaddaya say we shit-can the self-promoting signage until we're certain you're not heading for the slammer?


Thanks so much.
I am listening to: Somewhere Over the Rainbow - Israel K
I am reading: Empire Falls by Richard Russo
And I am: Fabulous

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Why I hate analysts

According to Forrester Research:

While Web buyers generally expect the coming 12 months to be particularly grim for the US economy overall, these same consumers view their personal financial situations more optimistically. As a result, more Web buyers report that, on average, they will spend more online in the next year. The segment of the population that is most likely to drive this increase in overall online spend is a set of consumers who saw their personal financial situations improve during the past 12 months.

Most likely? Ya think? Yeesh.
I am listening to: Certainly not this brainiac
I am reading: Empire Falls by Richard Russo
And I am: So done with winter

Monday, January 26, 2009

Blown again

It happens a few times a year. I blow a mental fuse.

Most of the time it has to do with being over-socialized, like after a trade show. Sometimes it has to do with being fired.

Thankfully, this time it's more of the self-induced variety.

I went to a weekend class recommended by my boss and several others I know professionally. It kinda fucked with my head - which is exactly what it was designed to do. I learned more about myself in that weekend than I have in more than a few years of self-indulgent navel gazing. Some of it wasn't very pretty. Some of it was irritating. Some of it was downright lovely. All of it was enlightening.

Remember the year of fear and comfort? Well this is part of that.

I've been wayyyy too comfortable for wayyyy too long and it's time to shake things up a bit.

So I'm going on this big scary adventure.

I'm petrified. For brief moments I'm really angry (because I like my comfortable life just the way it is.) Most of the time I'm more present and compassionate than I've been in quite some time.

Which is kinda cool.

This adventure. It's going to take a year, maybe longer. Sometimes I will share what I'm learning, sometimes not.

But I expect to be writing again soon.
I am listening to: An extremely irritating episode of 24
I am reading: Empire Falls by Richard Russo
And I am: Blown again

Friday, January 23, 2009

Apples to apples

Red Delicious apples are far superior to Galas in my opinion.

The Gala is tougher and tastes more 'orchard-ish'. The Red Delicious is sweeter and softer and tastes more 'apple-y'.

Apples, Hedy? You don't post all week and then it's fucking apples? What gives?

It's all I've got. Trust me.

Next up: Emotional hamburgers. Have a great weekend.
I am listening to: Sing For You - Tracy Chapman
I am reading: Empire Falls by Richard Russo (Thanks, Dave!)
And I am: Out of my fucking tree

Monday, January 19, 2009

Good morning, Robot

[Editor's note: This was written last Thursday. It's published today in honor of Bob May - the man inside the Robot - who died yesterday at the age of 69.]

“Do you know if my new headband is in the ski bag?” I ask Jim this morning.

It’s -24 degrees here. No wind chill factor. Just plain old -24 degrees.

I can’t be the only Chicagoan thinking: ‘Fuck you, Al Gore. Fuck you and fuck global warming. My ass is a polar ice cap, motherfucker, and it ain’t melting.’

Anyhow. It’s cold. And layers are in order.

“I don’t remember,” he says. “Where are the ear muffs I got you?”

I could tell him that it’ll be plenty cold enough to wear both the headband and the muffs, but I’m already halfway downstairs.

Jim likes reminding me to use the things he’s gifted me. It’s his little way of nagging saying: “Why don’t you use the shit I get for you? I love you.”

Me, I don’t do that so much. Even though I seriously could.

An acoustic guitar for his birthday before we got married. Wireless headphones for Christmas eight years ago. A cool new turntable for our 10-year anniversary last August.

I pass all of these items – none of which are being used to their full potential – trudging through the basement to find the ski bag.

“Good morning, Robot,” I say.

Good morning, Robot? Hedy? Have you gone mad with the cold?


But when you have a 6’5”, 375 lb. robot living in your basement, ‘good morning’ just seems like the right thing to say.
I should’ve known it would happen.

We were at a geekfest sci-fi/comic book show in Rosemont back in the late 90’s.

It’s when I began to understand Jim’s unholy obsession with all things Lost in Space.

Apparently the entire crew from the Jupiter 2 would be there signing autographs.

“Except Guy Williams,” Jim reminded me. “He’s dead.”

We had to go.

Walking in – sure as shit – there they were. Judy. Don. Penny. The mom, June Lockhart. Billy Mumy.

“There he is,” Jim said in a hushed voice, poking my arm. “There HE IS. It’s DR. SMITH.”

Jonathan Harris, better known as that evil-minded intergalactic stow away Dr. Zachary Smith, was now a frail-ish old man sitting alone behind a table fiddling with a Sharpie, waiting to sign autographs.

I head over to get a closer look. Approaching the table, I realize Jim is no longer next to me.

He’s standing back where I left him. Thirty feet away. Petrified.

“What are you doing? C’mon, let’s go meet him,” I say.

“You don’t understand, this guy was my idol,” he says. “I can’t talk to him. He’s Dr. Smith.”

That’s the moment.

The moment when I probably should’ve realized some day we’d be living with a fully functioning, soil-sampling Model B-9, Class M-3 General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Control Robot.
“You gotta listen to this message.”

That was Jim, back in July, dragging me upstairs to the answering machine.

It was the Robot company. Calling to tell us that our Robot is ready. Jim had been on a waiting list for four years and it’s finally ready.

Our Robot. Is ready.

The look on his face was priceless.

Getting-a-blowjob-on-your-birthday-whilst-bathing-in-Balvenie priceless.
Yes. Four years on a Robot waiting list.

I know. Shaddap.
Incidentally, meeting the actors from Lost in Space was trippy.

June Lockhart was friendly and gracious, as expected.

I asked Judy and Don if they ever fooled around on the set. Jim smacked me on the arm. They glanced at each other and said “Well, we were both married at the time…” and then they smiled. Yep.

But dear old Dr. Smith was the best. A hoot and a half.

At the time, the new Lost in Space movie was in the works and we asked him if he’d be participating.

“I have what I like to call ‘fuck you’ money,” he said in that unmistakably imperious dialect. “When they asked me if I wanted a cameo, I said ‘fuck you.’”

“He’s here.”

I got the email from Jim the morning of July 30.

It took both of us using a handcart to haul him downstairs. And about 20 minutes to set him up.

So what does the Robot do, Hedy?

He’s charming. He talks. A lot. And when you yank out his power pack (just like they did on the show) he bitches you out before shutting down. He’s got a soil sampler that tells us the floor is dirty. He’s extremely heavy so he’s stationary, but his body rotates when he’s on.

He’s everything you’d imagine he’d be. And he’s in our basement.

So yeah. Good morning, Robot.
I am listening to: Sing for You – Tracy Chapman
I am reading: Nothing
And I am: Going on a big scary adventure

Monday, January 12, 2009

Seven things you don't know about me

Favorite Poem:
When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer
by Walt Whitman

WHEN I heard the learn’d astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
Favorite Non-Swear Word: Unfettered
Favorite Belief: Separation only exists in our minds because of our bodies - in reality, we're all connected; we're all one.
Favorite Swear Word: Fuckstick
Favorite Sci-Fi Movie After Star Wars:
Favorite Guilty Pleasure:
Scrabble on Facebook
Favorite Famous Dead People: Albert Einstein, Queen Elizabeth I, Mark Twain, Jesus Christ, Leonardo da Vinci.
I am listening to: 24
I am reading: Nothing yet
And I am: Phoning it in today, sorry

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Heather is gassy

Practically everyone I know is on Facebook now. Work people. Ex-work people. Friends. Family.

Which can be tricky. For example:

Update status: "Heather is trying to figure out what the hell to get Jim for Christmas."

Rodney Lee commented on your status:
"Here's a hint: it rhymes with glowjob."

Which was a great idea.

Except now all of my (relatively) new co-workers know that I know what a glowjob is and that one of my husband's best friends knows me well enough to suggest the giving of it in celebration of the birth of our Lord, the Cuddly Wuddly Christ.
Here's hoping all of this incessant status updating will fade out eventually. Or perhaps people will start sharing what they're really doing. Wouldn't that be fun?

Instead of: "Heather is chilling on the couch watching the snow."

It will be: "Heather is farting so much from the chicken parm sliders at TGI Friday's that Gromit has left the room."

Whaddaya say, folks? You in?

If I started the "Heather is Farting and Other Reality-Based Facebook Status Updates" group, would you join?
I am listening to: The washing machine
I am reading: My guy Neil's Saturday column
And I am: Gassy

Friday, January 09, 2009

Looks like a left wing liberal whore

“Yesterday I have this guy who say he’s Christian,” says my cab driver. “Say he's teaching Christian school 40 years.”

“Oh yeah?” I say, wondering where the hell this is going.

“He was no Christian. He was jerk. And I want to tell him ‘I am Muslim, how do I know more about your Jesus than you?’”

He holds up a small MP3 player and smiles.

“I listen to Koran every day. It tells about Jesus – I know about him and his mother and what he do, how he live. I know more than this guy about his Jesus.”
“Quite a photo, isn’t it?” asks the Pakistani guy standing next to me on the 7:42 train to Chicago.

We were waiting to get off the train, reading the front section of the Chicago Tribune someone had left on the luggage rack. It was that photo of all the presidents: Bush, Bush Sr., Clinton, Carter, and Obama from the famous lunch they had earlier this week.

“But only two great presidents,” he says, pointing to Clinton and Obama, and smiling.
“It’s a great day,” says the cab driver, winding his way through Chicago.

“It sure is,” I say.

“Obama is our candidate for president,” he says.

“He sure is.”
It happens all the time. This thing.

Strangers expressing views on politics and religion, assuming I’ll agree.

And here’s the deal: I do agree. 100% of the time.

But how the hell do they know I’m – as my friend You Know Who likes to say – a left wing liberal whore?

I don’t dress like a hippy chick. My fashion leans toward Midwestern Chubby Girl. And I have no visible tattoos.

So what gives?
“You must give off some kind of weird vibe – how do you attract people like this all the time?”

That was my dear friend DewMama, back in college when I was more of a whore than a left wing liberal, but anyhoo.

It’s been the story of my life: People open up to me on things that they probably shouldn’t and/or wouldn’t with others.

It happens all the time.

Well, Hedy, I’m sure your cab drivers don’t say that shit to old white dudes in suits.

Right. Like the Jesus teacher.

But why open up like that to me? I could just as easily be a Right Wing Bible Humpin' Christian. They can’t possibly know who I am or what I believe just by looking at me.

Can they?
I am listening to: The irritating dude in front of me babbling into his phone
I am reading: The Soft Addiction Solution by Judith Wright
And I am: An LW-squared

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Speaking of fearless

We’re gliding up to the top of the hill, Jim and me.

It's a gorgeous, cold, New Year's Eve day in northern Wisconsin.

It’s my first time on a chairlift since I fell off four years ago, shredding my ACL, and launching a year-long saga of damnfuckshithell hurty bullshit capped off with cracking my knee cap in two like a cookie during physical therapy.

Good times.

But we’re back. Our skis are ‘tips up’. I’m scoot-scoot-scootching forward. My heart is beating in my ears and in my toes, but I’m ready.

“So, tell me again how did you manage to fall off this thing?” asks Jim.

“Seriously? I asked someone a really stupid, ill-timed question and they pushed me off.”
I am listening to: Katy Perry - Hot N Cold
I am reading: Neil Steinberg at the Sun-Times
And I am: Still yelling at him for that one

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Year of Fear and Comfort

So I realized a while ago that I don’t much like the whole Happy New Year thing.

It’s inane to celebrate, as LBB at Suburban Panic puts it, the arbitrary division of our solar orbit.

It seems like the new year should happen some time in the Fall. Maybe it’s the perpetual schoolgirl or the ancient pagan in me, but I’ve always felt that Halloween or, better still, the equinox makes more sense.

That said, I do have one resolution for 2009: Do Not Be Afraid.

It’s sort of the end-all, be-all of resolutions.

Think about it.

What keeps us from being who we’re really supposed to be? What keeps us from keeping those promises to eat right and take care of ourselves and finally write that fucking screenplay that’s been rattling around in our brains since 1993?


I dunno, Hed. We get busy and distracted. We’re lazy, not afraid.

No, no, no.

What’s the white twin of fear? It’s that dangerous, evil magnet: Comfort.

This couch sure feels good. These potato chips sure taste good.

Lazing through a weekend with someone else’s stories (even if they reek like a backwoods craphouse on a hot summer day) is easier than writing something that actually might be worth reading.

I’m comfortable here. What if I trip and fall? What if I lose 30 lbs. and am faced with finally wrestling my deeper demons?

What if I actually tried writing something worth a good goddamn? What if I fail? Or worse, what if it changed the lovely, comfortable life I’ve created for myself?

Here’s a silly example: This new fantastic job comes with a membership at a fancy-schmancy big city health club.

I started working here in June. I went to the health club for the first time yesterday.

Because I was afraid of being the chubbiest girl at the gym. I was afraid of being semi-naked in a locker room with my co-workers. Afraid of what the world would think of me.

See? Fear. It keeps you from doing things that are good for you.

So this is the Year of Fear & Comfort.

If it’s something that makes me comfortable, it’s suspect. If it’s something that makes me afraid, I’m going for it.

And if there are ways that I can make others comfortable by doing things that make me fearful, well, those are the things I’d like to do most of all.
I am listening to: Erasure – A Little Respect
I am reading: Nothing until I write something worth reading
And I am: Not afraid and not comfortable

Monday, January 05, 2009

Conversations with Trees: Birch

"Hi, how are you?"


"Ah, birch trees don't like the cold much?"

"If I am a 'birch' as you call me, then no, we don't."

"That's right, I forgot. You don't know what you are, what we call you."

"No, I don't. But you don't know what you are, either, do you?"
I am listening to: I Promise You I Will - Depeche Mode
I am reading: The End of the Financial World as We Know It by Michael Lewis
And I am: Not as crazy as you think

Saturday, January 03, 2009

185 people found this offensive

Apparently this was the most complained about ad in 2008.

This is just a guess at how the pitch went:

"You see, there's this hot woman wandering around town with this pussy, er, beaver. And it's her beaver, get it? And they're having a great time doing all these things together like going to lunch and getting manicures. It's all about treating your beaver right, get it?"

Of course the ad doesn't show the hot chick whoring around town the night before and this whole 'day of fun with my beaver' thing is really a big 'I'm sorry about the smelly investment banker with the tiny wiener.'
I am listening to: The Twilight Zone
I am reading: Nothing
And I am: Giggling